A Novel Clinically Based Classification System For The Profunda Femoris Artery And The Circumflex Femoral Arteries

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Annals of Vascular Surgery


Background: The profunda femoris artery (PFA) supplies important collateral branches to both the ipsilateral internal iliac artery and the distal superficial femoral artery (SFA). The size and patency of these collateral pathways can determine the risk of pelvic malperfusion, spinal cord ischemia, and lower extremity limb loss following vascular interventions. Despite its importance, the anatomy of the PFA is rarely characterized in clinical studies involving the pelvic or lower extremity circulation. This discussion may be limited by the lack of a comprehensive classification system. Our objective was to describe the most common PFA anatomic variants and present a classification system based on its branching patterns. Methods: We dissected 155 fixed and nonfixed femoral artery systems from 88 cadavers. Seventy-seven female and 78 male femoral exposures were performed. Vessel diameters, branch configurations, and relative distances between the inguinal ligament, PFA, lateral circumflex femoral artery (LCFA), and medial circumflex femoral artery (MCFA) were recorded. Results: The mean diameters of the common femoral artery, SFA, and PFA were 10.3 mm, 8.0 mm, and 6.9 mm in males and 8.9 mm, 6.9 mm, and 6.1 mm in females, respectively (P < 0.05). The mean distances from the inguinal ligament for PFA, MCFA, and LCFA were 41 mm, 41.7 mm, and 52.5 mm, respectively. No significant differences were noted relative to laterality or fixation. We developed a clinically applicable classification system based on the orientation of the PFA, LCFA, and MCFA. Six PFA, 5 LCFA, and 5 MCFA variations were identified and ranked by frequency. The 5 most common combinations accounted for 56.1% of our cadaver series. Conclusions: The anatomic orientation of the PFA and its branches is highly variable. We propose a novel classification system of this rich collateral system to facilitate consistent communication in academic and clinical vascular surgery.

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